Today AMD is disclosing some basic details about the upcoming Phenom II X6. With the Thuban cores AMD is introducing its version of Intel’s Turbo Boost technology called Turbo Core. AMD has yet to implement power gating on its processors, so Turbo Core works a little differently than Intel’s Turbo.
Turbo Core activates when 3 or more cores (on a 6-core part) are idle. When this happens, the frequency of those three cores is reduced to 800MHz, the voltage to the entire chip is increased, and the remaining three cores are turboed up by as much as 500MHz. In any other situation the CPU runs at its normal clocks.
The CPU handles all monitoring and does the clock/voltage management itself. The switch to turbo up cores apparently happens fast enough to deal with Windows moving threads around from core to core.
Turbo Core is triggered by a deterministic system that is based on load demand and current operating conditions (not temperature). Cool’n’Quiet is active throughout the turbo process. What actually happens is that when CnQ looks to see if a set of cores should be downclocked, it also has the ability to increase the frequency of other cores.
Turbo Core will work only on AMD's new Phenom II X6 CPUs and forthcoming quad-core CPUs based on the new Zosma core design when they launch later this year. AMD also says that Turbo Core won't require new motherboards, and that current Socket AM3 and AM2+ boards that can support Thuban/Zosma will only need a BIOS update to support it.